After Diogo Jota failed to pass to an open Cristiano Ronaldo against Hungary, the noise was that the two wouldn’t quite click nicely at the European Championships. That’s certainly been blown out of the window, with Jota and Ronaldo each assisting each other yesterday against Germany.
Portugal mostly sat back and looked to use their pace on the counter. Their opening goal was of the sort we’ve seen from Liverpool in the past, with a fast transition from an opponent attack. Just sub in Salah for Ronaldo and you can visualise it. Jota is clearly part of the inner circle of Portuguese talent now, along with Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United, Bernardo Silva of Manchester City and of course Ronaldo.
It wasn’t nearly enough, and Germany ran out deserved winners. Portugal’s plan of sitting deep allowed Jogi Löw’s team to dominate and probe, eventually finding the solutions and scoring four goals. It’s a huge risk to play that negatively against a team willing to monopolise the ball like Germany, and Portugal paid the price.
Up next for Jota et al is France in Budapest on Wednesday. The French didn’t quite get the job done against Hungary, but a point will be absolutely fine for either side, so don’t expect a thrilling encounter. What is obvious is Portugal are not defensively solid enough to play that way again. They certainly have the attacking talent to play a more expansive game, and they may need to do exactly that if they are to retain their European Championship title.